Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Baseball Card Contest at Grand Cards

Grand Cards is doing a contest. Make your guesses. :)

1976 Topps #311 - Cookie Rojas

  • Cookie Rojas was signed when he was 17 years old by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956. His father wanted him to be a doctor, but Cookie decided on baseball instead. Rojas played in the minors from 1956-1962. He made his debut in April 1962 but was shuttled between Cincinnati and AAA that year. Rojas batted .221 in 86 at bats in '62. Cookie got his first major league hit off of Sandy Koufax. After the 1962 season Rojas was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jim Owens.
  • Rojas was mostly a pinch runner and late inning defensive replacement in 1963, hitting .221 in 77 at bats. In 1964 played six positions. He spent most of his time in center field. In 109 games Rojas batted .291. Cookie: Out of the Freezer -- August 1964 Baseball Digest
  • Although he still didn't have a regular position, Rojas made the NL All Star team in 1965 (he was 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter). He started 78 games at second base and 35 games in center field. Cooke batted .303 in 521 at bats in '65. In 1966 Rojas still split time between 2B and CF, but he played a higher proportion of his games at second. Cookie batted .268 in 626 at bats.
  • Rojas led the NL in sacrifice hits with 16 in 1967. He started 127 games at 2B and appeared at every position except 1B (he even pitched one scoreless inning). Rojas batted .259 in 528 at bats in 1967.
  • Cookie's offense started to dip in 1968. He batted .232 in 1968 and .228 in 1969. After the 1969 season Rojas was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of the big Curt Flood trade. Rojas started off poorly in 1970. He was batting only .106 in 46 at bats when he was traded to the Kansas City Royals on June 13 for Fred Rico. Rojas was inserted as Kansas City's starting second baseman and his offense came back (.260 in 98 games).
  • In 1971 Rojas started a string of four straight All Star games. He batted .300 in 414 at bats in 1971 and was 14th in MVP voting. In the '71 All Star game he was 0 for 1. This Cookie Doesn't Crumble -- October 1971 Baseball Digest
  • In 1972 Cookie batted .261 in 487 at bats. Rojas hit a 2-run homer in the top of the 8th inning in the 1972 All Star Game that put the AL ahead 3-2. The NL tied the game in the 9th inning, then won it in the 10th.
  • For the first time in his career Rojas played only one position (2B) for a whole season in 1973. He batted .276 in 551 at bats and walked in his only at bat in the All Star game. Cookie Rojas--An Unheralded Star -- July 1973 Baseball Digest
  • In 1974 Cookie again played only at 2B. He batted .271 in 542 at bats and made the AL all star team but didn't play.
  • Rojas played in only 120 games in 1975. He missed a week in late May/early June. The Royals were looking at Frank White in September. Cookie batted .254 in 406 at bats. In 1976 White replaced Rojas as the starting second baseman. Cookie batted .242 in 132 at bats. Rojas played well in the 1976 ALCS, batting .333 in nine at bats while playing in four of the five games.
  • Cookie's last season was 1977. He batted .250 in 156 at bats and was 1 for 4 with a stolen base as the DH in game 4 of the ALCS. After the 1977 season Rojas was released by the Royals. He signed with the Chicago Cubs on September 1, 1978 but he didn't play in any games and was released after the season.
  • After his playing career Rojas was a coach, manager, front office guy, scout, and announcer. He managed the California Angels for most of the 1988 season. Rojas was suspended for five games during the 1999 playoffs (while a third base coach for the New York Mets) for getting into a shoving match with umpire Charlie Williams while arguing a foul ball. He is now an analyst for the Florida Marlins' Spanish language broadcasts. His son Victor is a host for MLB network.
  • Liked to face: Rudy May (.533 in 30 AB); Sammy Ellis (.467 in 30 AB); Bill Hands (.392 in 51 AB)
  • Hated to face: Danny Frisella (.000 in 10 AB); Joe Niekro (.043 in 23 AB); Cal Koonce (.103 in 29 AB)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

1976 Topps #310 - Randy Jones

  • Randy "Junkman" Jones pitched for the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets from 1973-1982. He was drafted by the Padres in 1972. Randy pitched in the minors in 1972 and part of 1973. After going 8-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 10 starts for AA Alexandria, Jones was brought up in mid-June of 1973. In 19 starts Randy was 7-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 1973.
  • Jones had a rough go of it in 1974. He was 8-22 with an ERA of 4.45 in 34 starts. The 22 losses led the NL. He appeared six more times in relief and picked up two saves.
  • Randy turned it around in a big way in 1975. He was the Comeback Player of the Year, was on the NL All Star team, was 2nd in Cy Young Award voting, and 10th in MVP voting. Jones was 20-12 with a league-leading 2.24 ERA in 36 starts. Randy pitched the 9th inning of the All Star game and didn't allow any runs. The NL was leading 6-3 at the time, but Randy just got a "hold" instead of a save. Randy Jones Pitches Early But the Ball Comes Late -- Baseball Digest December 1975
  • In 1976 Jones had his best year. He was the NL Cy Young winner and was 10th in MVP voting again. Randy led the NL in wins (22), starts (40), complete games (25), and innings (315.1). He was 22-14 with a 2.74 ERA. Jones started the 1976 All Star Game and was the winning pitcher (0 runs in 3 innings). Randy Jones: The Sinkerball is His Ticket to Fame -- Baseball Digest August 1976
  • Jones injured a nerve in his pitching arm in 1977 and wasn't quite the same pitcher after that. He was out for six weeks from mid-June to late July. The nerve injury bothered him periodically for the rest of his career. In 1977 Randy was 6-12 with a 4.58 ERA in 25 starts.
  • Randy came back to have a pretty good year in 1978. He was 13-14 with a 2.88 ERA in 36 starts. The 1978 Padres were the only winning team he would ever pitch for. In 1979 Jones was 11-12 with a 3.63 ERA in 39 starts.
  • Jones missed a month in 1980 (mid June to mid July) and struggled to a 5-13 record with a 3.94 ERA in 24 starts. After the 1980 season Jones was traded to the New York Mets for John Pacella and Jose Moreno. In 1981 Randy was hurt again and pitched only twice after June 10 (and in both of those September games he got hammered). He went 1-8 with a 4.85 ERA in 12 starts.
  • In 1982 Randy's starts ran hot and cold. He failed to get out of the third inning in eight of his 20 starts, but pitched well in most of his other starts. Jones ended up 7-10 with a 4.60 ERA in 28 games (20 starts). After the 1982 season Jones was released by the Mets. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates but was released during spring training in 1983.
  • After his career Jones worked in real estate and managed a chain of car washes in San Diego. He then moved into the food commissary business and opened up a barbecue at Qualcomm Stadium. He has his own brand of barbecue sauce (see his official site). Jones also conducts baseball clinics during the summer. His most famous pupil from the baseball camps is Barry Zito. Randy also hosts a radio show in southern California and has his own fishing show, Randy Jones' Strike Zone, on the Outdoor Channel.
  • May 1998 Baseball Digest "Where are they now" article
  • Here is a "Where are they now" Baseball Digest article from August 2001.
  • Link to a Randy Jones interview done in 2010.
  • Liked to face: Pete Rose (.183 in 93 AB); Darrell Chaney (.043 in 23 AB); Richie Hebner (.107 in 28 AB). I mention Mr. Rose because in the Baseball Digest article Jones mentions that Rose and Greg Luzinski used to yell at Jones to stop throwing that (expletive) and throw some fastballs. Jones rarely exceeded 80 mph on his pitches.
  • Hated to face: Steve Henderson (.556 in 18 AB); John Stearns (.522 in 23 AB); Larry Parrish (.487 in 39 AB)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

1976 Topps #309 - Bill Melton

  • Bill Melton was a third baseman who played from 1968-1977, mostly with the Chicago White Sox. Melton was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1964 and played in the minors from 1964-1968. Bill was brought up in May 1968 but struggled to keep his average above .200 so he was sent back down at the end of the month. Melton came back to the White Sox to stay in September. Altogether Bill played in 34 games and batted .266 with 2 HR and 16 RBI.
  • In 1969 Bill started at third base for the White Sox. He batted .255 with 23 HR and 87 RBI in 157 games. Melton split time between RF (71 games) and 3B (70 games) in 1970. He didn't make any errors in RF, but his fielding percentage was .926 (league average .950) at third base. Bill batted .263 with 33 HR and 96 RBI in 1970. This was the last season in which Melton would appear in the outfield.
  • Melton's best season was 1971. He made the AL All Star team and was 13th in MVP voting. Melton won the AL home run title with 33 homers. Playing exclusively at third base, Bill batted .269 in 150 games and knocked in 86 runs.
  • Bill had a tough time in 1972. He was batting .245 with 7 HR and 30 RBI after 57 games when a herniated disk ended his season on June 23. After the injury Melton's power numbers were never quite as good.
  • Melton batted .277 with 20 HR and 87 RBI in 1973. By this time White Sox announcer Harry Caray was getting on Bill for his defense. In some seasons (1971, 1973) Bill was right at or slightly above league average at third base while he was below average in other seasons (1970, 1972, 1974, 1975).
  • In 1974 Melton batted .242 with 21 HR and 63 RBI in 136 games. He batted .240 with 15 HR and 70 RBI in 149 games in 1975. After the 1975 season Melton was traded to the California Angels with Steve Dunning for Morris Nettles and Jim Spencer.
  • Bill spent one season (1976) with the Angels, batting .208 with 6 HR and 42 RBI in 118 games. About half of those games were at DH and the other half were split between 1B and 3B. After the 1976 season Melton was traded to the Cleveland Indians for cash and Stan Perzanowski. Bill played in only 50 games in 1977, batting .241 with no homers and 14 RBI. He became a free agent after the season, didn't sign with anyone, and retired at the age of 31.
  • Melton is now a commentator for White Sox broadcasts.
  • Liked to face: Jim Slaton (.364 with 4 HR in 44 AB); Ron Perranoski (.462 with 4 HR in 13 AB); Skip Lockwood (.394 with 4 HR in 33 AB)
  • Hated to face: Dean Chance (.000 in 10 AB); Ken Sanders (.000 in 12 AB); Jim Colborn (.091 in 22 AB); Bert Blyleven (.123 in 65 AB)

Monday, December 28, 2009

1976 Topps #308 - Jim Barr

  • Jim Barr pitched for the San Francisco Giants and the California Angels from 1971-1983. He was a member of two National Championship team at USC (1968 and 1970) and graduated from USC with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Barr was drafted five times by various teams before finally signing with the Giants in 1970. Jim was in the minors in 1970 and 1971 and made his major league debut on July 31, 1971. In 17 games Barr was 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA.
  • In 1972 Barr was a reliever for the first part of the season and became a starter in late June. Jim was 8-10 with 2 saves and an ERA of 2.87 in 44 games (18 starts). Barr set a record in 1972 by retiring 41 batters in a row over two starts. The record stood until it was tied by Bobby Jenks in 2007 and broken by Mark Buerhle in 2009.
  • From 1973-1977 Jim was a solid starter for the Giants. He won ten or more games in each of those seasons and was in the NL top ten in ERA three times. In 1973 Jim was 11-17 with a 3.81 ERA. Barr was 13-9 with an ERA of 2.74 in 1974 and 13-14 with a 3.06 ERA in 1975.
  • Barr's best season was probably 1976. He was 15-12 with a 2.89 ERA for a team that was probably at its low point in franchise history. Jim's ERA jumped to 4.76 in 1977 and his record dropped to 12-16. Oddly Jim was only 8-11 in 1978, a season in which the Giants were contenders until late September. After the 1978 season Barr became a free agent and signed with the California Angels.
  • In 1979 Barr was 10-12 with a 4.20 ERA in 36 games (25 starts). His last 1979 start was on September 20 and he wasn't used in the ALCS. Jim had arm problems in 1980 and missed about six weeks from late June to early August. He appeared in 24 games (7 starts) and was 1-4 with a 5.56 ERA. Jim was released by the Angels during spring training in 1981.
  • On July 6, 1981 Barr signed with the Chicago White Sox and started ten games for their AAA Edmonton club before being released in early September. Jim tried out for the Giants in 1982 and made the team. He pitched for the Giants for two seasons. In 1982 Barr was 4-3 with 2 saves and a 3.29 ERA in 53 games (9 starts). In 1983 Jim appeared as a reliever in 53 games and was 5-3 with one save and a 3.98 ERA. Barr was released during spring training in 1984 and caught on with the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched for Baltimore's AAA Rochester club but wasn't brought up to the majors.
  • Since his retirement Barr has enjoyed watching his two daughters play college and pro soccer. Jim has been the pitching coach for Sacramento State University since 1995. He enjoys coaching college instead of in the minors since there is less travel involved.
  • Here is a chapter in the book Giants: Where Have You Gone? about Barr.
  • Liked to face: Frank Taveras (.111 in 27 AB); Ted Sizemore (.132 in 38 AB); John Milner (.143 in 49 AB)
  • Hated to face: Ken Griffey (.435 in 46 AB); Mike Tyson (.438 in 32 AB); Ron Cey (.413 in 75 AB)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

1976 Topps #307 - Al Bumbry

  • Al Bumbry was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1968. He played in 35 minor league games in 1969 before serving in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970. Al was a platoon leader and earned the Bronze Star while in Vietnam. He came back in 1971 and batted .336 in 66 games for Class A Aberdeen. After batting .345 in AA and AAA, Al came up at the end of the 1972 season and appeared in nine games (.364 in 11 at bats).

  • Bumbry was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1973 and led the league with 11 triples. He batted .337 in 356 at bats while playing all three outfield positions and DH. Al tied a major league record by hitting three triples in one game on September 22. He was hitless in nine plate appearances in the 1973 ALCS. In 1974 Bumbry played in 94 games and slumped to a .233 average in 270 at bats. He struck out in his only plate appearance in the 1974 ALCS.

  • In 1975 Al saw most of his action as a DH (45 games) and left fielder (35 games). He batted .269 in 349 at bats. Bumbry became the starting LF for the Orioles in 1976 after Don Baylor was traded. He stole 42 bases and batted .251 in 450 at bats. In 1977 Al played in 133 games and batted .317 with a .371 on base percentage.

  • Bumbry was injured in 1978 and didn't play from May 12 to September 4. He batted .237 in 33 games. Al bounced back in 1979 as the regular center fielder to bat .285 with 37 stolen bases in 148 games. He had a pretty good ALCS (.250 with 5 runs scored in 4 games), but didn't do much in the World Series (.143 in 21 at bats).

  • Al made the AL All Star team in 1980 (he went 0 for 1) and received some minor MVP consideration. Bumbry batted .318, stole 44 bases, and had 205 hits while playing in 160 games. In 1981 Al batted .273 in 101 games (out of a possible 105).

  • Al batted .262 in 150 games in 1982. In 1983 Bumbry batted .275 in 124 games and in 1984 he closed out his Oriole career by batting .270 in 119 games. After the 1984 season Bumbry became a free agent and signed with the San Diego Padres. Al mostly pinch hit in '85, batting .200 in 95 at bats. He became a free agent after the season, didn't sign with anyone, and retired.

  • Liked to face: Rick Waits (.625 in 16 AB); Al Fitzmorris (.588 in 17 AB); Chuck Rainey (.571 in 14 AB); Jim Beattie (.455 in 33 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rollie Fingers (.063 in 16 AB); Rich Gossage (.067 in 30 AB); Bert Blyleven (.087 in 36 AB); Nolan Ryan (.152 with 24 strikeouts in 46 AB)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

1976 Topps #306 - Rod Gilbreath

  • Rod Gilbreath was an infielder for the Atlanta Braves from 1972-1978. Gilbreath was drafted by the Braves in 1970. Except for a .309 season in A ball in 1971, Rod didn't exactly tear up the minor leagues (although he had seasons of 45 and 36 stolen bases).
  • Gilbreath was called up to the Braves in mid-June of 1972. He stayed for a couple of weeks, went back down to the minors, then was called back up in September. In 18 games Rod batted .237. In 1973 Rod started with the Braves and was sent back down in late May. He batted .284 in 74 at bats. Gilbreath was in the minors for most of the 1974 season. He was 2 for 6 in three late September games for the Braves.
  • Rod stayed up with the Braves all season in 1975. He batted .243 in 202 at bats as a utility infielder. Gilbreath got quite a bit more playing time in 1976. He led the NL with 20 sacrifice hits and batted .251 in 383 at bats.
  • Gilbreath was the starting second baseman for Atlanta in 1977. He batted .243 with eight home runs in 407 at bats. In 1978 Rod split time between third base and second base. He started the season as the starting third baseman, but his playing time at third was sharply curtailed after the Braves got Bob Horner. The Braves had Jerry Royster at second base, so there wasn't much room for Rod. In 326 at bats Gilbreath batted .245.
  • Rod didn't make the club in 1979 and was released on March 30. He was picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates and played well for AAA Portland in 1979 and 1980, but he didn't make it back to the majors. Gilbreath retired after the 1980 season at the age of 27.
  • Gilbreath has been employed by the Braves as a major and minor league scout for several years. Here is an article from his hometown (Laurel, MS) newspaper about Rod's assessment of the Braves for the 2008 season.
  • Liked to face: Jim Kaat (.583 in 12 AB); Bob Owchinko (.500 in 20 AB); Jim Lonborg/Dave Roberts (.462 in 13 AB each)
  • Hated to face: Joaquin Andujar (.000 in 14 AB); Fred Norman (.045 in 22 AB); Pat Zachry (.056 in 18 AB)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Can you name the .400 hitters in MLB history?

(I got 22/35 -- didn't know a lot of the earlier ones)

Secret Santa Goodies

McCann Can Triple from A Rookie (baseball) Card Collector organized a Secret Santa activity for our little blogosphere. It was fun for me to figure out what my blogger would like for Christmas. Hopefully he/she will like what I sent. Here is what I got:

At first glance one might say, "whoopee--a bunch of commons." But these cards complete my 1980 and 1981 Topps sets and get me much closer to filling the gaps in my 1975 Topps set (I need three more cards for that one). Cool!

An assortment of various Giants. Some from my wantlist (the Donruss and Fleer cards) and some that I hadn't heard of -- an Andres Galarraga jersey card, a very thick Fred Lewis autograph card, and a Bowman chrome Pablo Sandoval. I guess the two football cards were thrown in because Santa thought I was from the Bay Area (I'm actually from Phoenix).
Thanks for the cards, whoever you are! And thanks to McCann Can Triple for organizing this. I'm looking forward to doing this again next year. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1976 Topps #305 - Andy Messersmith

  • Andy Messersmith pitched in the majors from 1968-1979. He is most famous for the 1975 Seitz Decision that took out the reserve clause. Messersmith was a first round draft pick of the California Angels in 1966. He pitched in the minors from 1966-1968 and made his major league debut on July 4, 1968. Andy was a swingman that season and was 4-2 with 4 saves and a 2.21 ERA in 28 games (5 starts).
  • In 1969 Andy was mostly a starting pitcher. He was 16-11 with 2 saves and a 2.52 ERA in 40 games (33 starts). Messersmith was 11-10 with 5 saves and a 3.01 ERA in 37 games (26 starts) in 197o.
  • Messersmith made his first All Star team and finished 5th in Cy Young Award voting in 1971. He was 20-13 with a 2.99 ERA. In his last season with the Angels (1972) Andy was 8-11 with 2 saves and a 2.81 ERA in 25 games (21 starts). He didn't pitch from late May to mid July. After the 1972 season Messersmith was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a big trade that sent Frank Robinson to the Angels.
  • In 1973 Andy was 14-10 with a 2.70 ERA in 33 starts. Messersmith had a big year in 1974. He was an All Star and finished second to teammate Mike Marshall in NL Cy Young voting. Andy also won a Gold Glove and led the NL in wins with 20. Messersmith had a record of 20-6 with a 2.59 ERA in 39 starts. Andy won game 2 of the NLCS but lost games 1 and 4 of the 1974 World Series.
  • Messersmith may have been better in 1975. In his 40 starts Andy was 19-14 with a 2.29 ERA and led the NL with seven shutouts. He was an NL All Star and won another Gold Glove.
  • Before the 1975 season Andy wanted to have a no-trade clause put in his contract. The Dodgers refused and Messersmith was offended about a "personal issue" that Al Campanis mentioned during the negotiations. He pitched the 1975 season without a contract and after the season was declared a free agent. Messersmith signed a 3-year, $1 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
  • Andy pitched decently (but not as well as expected) for the Braves in 1976, due in part to missing spring training. He was 11-11 with a 3.04 ERA in 28 starts and was an All Star for the last time (although he was replaced due to injury). In 1977 Andy didn't pitch after July 3 due to injuries (he pitched only 1/3 of an inning in that game). He was 5-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 16 starts. After the 1977 season Messersmith was purchased by the New York Yankees.
  • Messersmith appeared in only six games for the Yankees in 1978. He made the starting rotatoin but hurt his shoulder covering first base a week before the season started. His first game was on May 29 and his last game was on July 1. Andy was 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA for the Yankees and was released after the season. Messersmith came back to the Dodgers but didn't have much left. He was 2-4 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 starts before being released on August 28.
  • Here is a Sports Illustrated piece commemerating the 30th anniversary of the Seitz decision.
  • Here is a "Where are they now" article from 2005. Andy now coaches baseball at Cabrillo College.
  • Liked to face: Bill Robinson (.000 in 16 AB); Tommy Davis (.059 in 17 AB); Darrell Thomas (.061 in 33 AB); Horace Clarke (.067 in 30 AB)
  • Hated to face: George Hendrick (.600 in 10 AB); George Foster (.500 in 20 AB); Greg Luzinski (.441 with 6 HR in 34 AB)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1976 Topps #304 - California Angels

  • The 1976 California Angels were a very mediocre lot. They had only one player in double figures in home runs (Barry Bonds with 10) and he played in only 99 games. Dick Williams managed the club to a 39-57 record before being dismissed. Norm Sherry managed the Angels for the remainder of the season and was 37-29.
  • Dick Williams was a no-nonsense manager who was disliked by many of his players but usually got results. He is in the Hall of Fame as a manager. He managed six teams in his career. He didn't have success with the Angels. They finished 6th in the AL West in 1974 and 1975 and 4th in 1976. Williams took three of the six teams he managed to the World Series -- Boston (1967), Oakland (1972 and 1973), and San Diego (1984). He also got the Montreal Expos to the playoffs in 1981.
  • Record: 76-86 (4th in AL West, 14 games behind Kansas City)
  • Attendance: 1,006,774 (8th of 12 in AL)
  • Team Batting: .235 (12th in AL)
  • Team Home Runs: 63 (12th in AL)
  • Team ERA: 3.36 (5th in AL)
  • Team Fielding: .977 (8th in AL)
  • AL All Stars: Frank Tanana (P)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

1976 Topps #303 - Steve Foucault

  • Steve Foucault was a relief pitcher from 1973-1978. Foucault was drafted by the Washington Sentaors in 1969. He started as a catcher and switched to pitching in 1970 after a knee injury. Steve was brought up by the Texas Rangers in 1973 and went 2-4 with 8 saves and a 3.88 ERA in 32 games.
  • Foucault had a good year in 1974. He had all of his team's saves (12) and was 8-9 with a 2.24 ERA in 69 games. In 1975 he improved his record to 8-4 and had 10 saves and a 4.12 ERA in 59 games. In his last season with the Rangers (1976) Steve was 8-8 with 5 saves and an ERA of 3.33 in 46 games. Right before the 1977 season he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Willie Horton.
  • Steve had a good year for the Tigers in 1977, going 7-7 with 13 saves and a 3.15 ERA in 44 games. Foucault started the 1978 season well. He was 2-4 with 4 saves and a 3.13 ERA at the end of July. Steve was then placed on waivers and claimed by the Kansas City Royals on August 16. He pitched in three games for the Royals then was released on September 5. Foucault tried to catch on with Houtson's AAA Charleston club in 1979 but had a 7.71 ERA in five games.
  • After his playing career Foucault did a lot of coaching in the minors. Steve has been Wayne Krenchicki's pitching coach for 16 seasons. He is now the pitching coach for the independent Evansville Otters.
  • Liked to face: Earl Williams (.000 in 11 at bats); Frank Duffy (.000 in 10 at bats); Hal McRae (.077 in 13 AB)
  • Hated to face: Bob Stinson (.833 in 6 at bats); Ken Singleton (.667 in 12 at bats); Rick Manning (.714 in 7 at bats)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who would you have voted for in 1976?

At the time this ballot came out I was nine years old. I might have done one of these ballots during a Phoenix Giants game that year. I have no idea who I voted for, but I'll see if I can "recreate" my ballot here.

National League
C Johnny Bench
1B Tony Perez
2B Joe Morgan
SS Dave Concepcion
3B Pete Rose
OF Greg Luzinski, Bobby Murcer, Ken Griffey

I was a huge Reds fan during this time. I'm pretty sure my ballot would have been dominated by Reds. I would have voted for Luzinski over George Foster because Foster still wasn't a "proven" commodity in the spring/summer of '76. That soon would change. I also had a Slurpee cup with Greg Luzinski on it, so I figured that he must be a great player. I probably would have voted for either Murcer or Gary Matthews as the token Giant.

American League

C Carlton Fisk
1B Rod Carew
2B Denny Doyle
SS Robin Yount
3B Brooks Robinson
OF Reggie Jackson, Fred Lynn, Rick Manning

I didn't know much about the American League. I would have voted for Fisk, Doyle, and Lynn based on what I knew about them from the 1975 World Series. Rick Manning would have gotten my vote based on the cover photo on the then-current (June 1976) issue of Baseball Digest. Reggie would have been the third OF based on his fame. Robin Yount would have gotten my vote based on the fact that the Brewers trained in Sun City, AZ at the time and I got to see a lot of spring training games during that time. I would have voted for Brooks Robinson because he was in a game that I played all the time called Superstar Baseball. First base would have been the toughest call for me. Carl Yastrzemski was the more famous 1B based on the '75 World Series, but Rod Carew was one of my favorite players. I would have voted for Carew wishing that he was on the ballot at 2B instead.

How would you have voted?

1976 Topps #302 - Rick Miller

  • Rick Miller was an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox and the California Angels for 15 years. Miller was drafted by the Red Sox in 1969 and played in their system from 1969-1971. His minor league stats weren't all that eye-popping -- his best batting average was .262 and he didn't hit more than 15 HR in a season. But he walked 106 times in 1971 for a .389 on base percentage and he had 21 outfield assists that year. At the end of the '71 season Rick came up to the Red Sox and batted .333 in 33 at bats.
  • Miller's role was as a defensive replacement in 1972. He got into 89 games but batted only 111 times for a .214 average. In 1973 Rick was the starting CF and batted .261 in 441 at bats. After the 1973 season Rick married Carlton Fisk's sister Janet Marie. Miller started 73 games in CF for the Red Sox in 1974 and played in a total of 114 games. He batted .261 in 280 at bats. Rick's playing time had decreased because the Red Sox had brought up Juan Beniquez, who was the Minor League Player of the Year in '73.
  • In 1975 Miller's playing time really decreased as the Red Sox brought up Fred Lynn and Jim Rice. He played in 75 games and batted .194 in 108 at bats. Rick wasn't used in the ALCS and was 0 for 2 in the World Series. Rick got a little more playing time in 1976 when Lynn was injured, but there still wasn't much room for him. Miller batted .283 in 269 at bats in '76. In 1977 Miller was the fourth outfielder and batted .254 in 189 at bats. He spent almost the whole month of May on the disabled list with a broken thumb. After the 1977 season Miller became a free agent and signed with the California Angels.
  • Miller became the Angels starting center fielder in 1978 and won a Gold Glove award. He batted .263 in 475 at bats. Rick didn't have as good a year on the basepaths -- he stole 3 bases and was caught 13 times. In 1979 Miller shared time with Joe Rudi, Dan Ford, and Don Baylor in the outfield. He batted .293 as the Angels' leadoff hitter. Rick was 4 for 16 in the ALCS. Rick batted .274 in 129 games in 1980 and was traded back to the Red Sox after the season.
  • In 1981 Miller was the starting center fielder for the Red Sox and batted .291 in 97 games in the strike-shortened season. Miller batted .254 in 135 games in 1982. After the Red Sox acquired Tony Armas, Rick's playing time started to drop. He batted .286 in 262 at bats in 1983. He was 17 for 36 as a pinch hitter that year. In 1984 he batted .260 in 123 at bats. An injured hip hampered him during his last season in 1985. Rick batted .333 in 45 at bats in 1985 and retired after the season.
  • After his career Rick worked with his financial advisor for a while then started a promotional business dealing in autograph shows. After a few years Rick started coaching as a volunteer assistant with a local college. He also runs baseball clinics and does charity work for baseball. Miller managed the Nashua Pride of the independent Canadian-American Baseball League in 2008.

  • Liked to face: Milt Wilcox (.420 in 51 AB); Wayne Garland (.441 in 34 AB); Dave Goltz (.538 in 26 AB)

  • Hated to face: Doyle Alexander (.195 in 41 AB); Dan Petry (.176 in 34 AB); Al Fitzmorris (.167 in 30 AB)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

1976 Topps #301 - Jackie Brown

  • Jackie Brown was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1962. He pitched in the Phillies' system from 1962 until he was released in May 1968. Brown was signed by the Washington Senators and he pitched better in the Washington organization. Jackie made it to the majors in 1970 at the age of 27. He pitched in 27 games (5 starts) and was 2-2 with a 3.95 ERA.
  • Brown went back and forth between Washington and Denver in 1971. For the Senators he was 3-4 with a 5.94 ERA in 14 games (9 starts). Jackie was back in Denver for the entire 1972 season. In 1973 Brown was in AAA Spokane until early July then was called up to Texas where he was 5-5 with two saves and a 3.92 ERA in 25 games (3 starts).
  • Jackie had his best season in 1974 when he was inserted into the Texas rotation. He was 13-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 35 games (26 starts). Brown started the 1975 season with Texas and was traded to the Cleveland Indians as part of a package for Gaylord Perry on June 13. For the two clubs Jackie was 6-7 with one save and a 4.25 ERA in 42 games (10 starts).
  • Brown was mostly a starter for the last two years of his career. In 1976 he went 9-11 with a 4.25 ERA in 32 games (27 starts). After the '76 season Jackie was traded to the Montreal Expos for Andre Thornton (whoops!!). For the Expos in 1977 Brown was 9-12 with a 4.51 ERA in 42 games (25 starts). The Expos released Jackie after the 1977 season and he signed with the Texas Rangers. Brown spent the 1978 season in AAA Tucson but didn't make it back to the majors.
  • Liked to face: Aurelio Rodriguez (.179 in 39 AB); Al Kaline (.095 in 21 AB); John Mayberry (.091 in 22 AB)
  • Hated to face: Amos Otis (.565 in 23 AB); Freddie Pated (.423 in 26 AB); Robin Yount (.346 in 26 AB)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

1976 Topps #300 - Johnny Bench

  • This is my favorite card of the set and one of my favorites of all time. Even though he isn't doing anything in the picture, it's one of the best possible cards a catcher can have. Johnny Bench was one of my favorite players in that era.

  • Johnny Bench was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1965 when he was 17 years old. Bench was the valedictorian of his high school in Binger, OK. Here is a December 1977 Baseball Digest article that discusses how the Reds were able to get Bench in the second round. After playing in the minors for three years, Johnny was called up to the Reds at the end of the 1967 season. He batted .163 in 26 games. The Reds were still impressed with Bench and made him their starting catcher in 1968.

  • Bench was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1968. He started a string of Gold Glove awards that would go from 1968-1977. He also made it to the 1968 All Star Game. In his 16 full seasons, Bench would be an All Star 14 times. He batted .275 with 15 HR and 82 RBI in 154 games.

  • Bench was the NL MVP in 1970. He led the NL in home runs (45) and in RBI (148) and batted .293. He didn't hit very well in the postseason (.222 in the NLCS and .211 in the World Series). Baseball Digest February 1970

  • Johnny slumped in 1971. He was a holdout and reported late for spring training. He played in 149 games but he batted .238 with 27 HR and 61 RBI. This article has Mr. Bench discussing what happened in 1971 (Baseball Digest June 1972).

  • Bench bounced back in 1972 to win the NL MVP award for a second time. He led the NL in home runs (40) and RBI (125), walked 100 times, and batted .279. Johnny batted .333 in the NLCS and .250 in the World Series.

  • In 1973 Bench batted .253 with 25 HR and 104 RBI. He batted .263 in 19 at bats in the NLCS. Johnny led the NL in RBI (129) for the third and final time in 1974. He batted .280 and hit 33 home runs and was 4th in MVP voting.

  • The Reds finally won a World Championship in 1975. Bench batted .283 with 28 HR and 110 RBI and was 4th in MVP consideration. Bench batted only .077 in the NLCS and it was the only playoff series in which he didn't hit at least one home run. Johnny batted .177 in the 1975 World Series. Baseball Digest September 1975

  • Johnny had an uncharacteristic year in 1976. He batted a career-low .234, homered 16 times, and had 74 RBI. Bench came alive in the postseason. He batted .333 in the NLCS and then batted .533 with 2 home runs in the 1976 World Series. Bench was named the 1976 World Series MVP.

  • Bench had his last big offensive season in 1977. He batted .275 with 31 HR and 109 RBI. All of those games behind the plate started to wear on Johnny and he asked to be moved to another position. The Reds couldn't accomodate him for a few years since they didn't have anyone to take his place. In 1978 Bench played in only 120 games. He batted .260 with 23 HR and 73 RBI. Bench had a similar year in 1979 (.276, 22 HR, 80 RBI). Baseball Digest August 1979 Johnny was a regular behind the plate for the last time in 1980. He batted .250 with 24 HR and 68 RBI. Baseball Digest December 1980
  • In 1981 Bench was moved to first base. He was batting .343 on May 28 when he was injured and missed most of the rest of the season. Bench didn't return until August 26 and ended up batting .309 in 52 games. The Reds tried Johnny at third base in 1982 but his defense at that position was below league average. He batted .258 with 13 HR and 38 RBI in that season.

  • Johnny's last season was 1983. He was named to the NL All Star team after a two-year absence. Bench batted .255 with 12 HR and 54 RBI. The Reds had a "Johnny Bench Day" on September 17, 1983. Bench went behind the plate and hit a home run (his 389th and final HR) in that game.

Sports Illustrated "Memories are Made of This" October 3, 1983

  • In the early 1980s Bench starred in the Saturday morning TV show "The Baseball Bunch." After his career Bench became a professional bowler for a time and tried to get on the Senior PGA tour but didn't quite make it. He did a lot of broadcasting and does a lot of motivational speaking.

Bench blocks the plate against the San Diego Chicken (toward the end of the clip)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

1976 Topps #299 - Champ Summers

  • John "Champ" Summers saw action in Vietnam and didn't make it to the majors until he was 28 years old. His father was a Navy prizefighter and Champ was one of the first players to get a tattoo. Summers was signed by the Oakland A's after being discovered playing in a softball league after his service in Vietnam.
  • Champ played in the minors from 1971-1973. In 1974 he was with the A's in May and June. Summers batted .125 in 24 at bats before being sent back to AAA Tucson. He started the 1975 season in Tucson but was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Jim Todd and cash after 17 games. The Cubs brought him back up to the majors and he batted .231 in 91 at bats as a pinch hitter and spare outfielder.
  • Summers played in 83 games in 1976, only 26 of them in the field. He batted .206 in 142 AB. After the 1976 season he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Dave Schneck. Champ found at bats to be a rare occurrence with the Big Red Machine. In 1977 he batted .171 in 76 at bats. He spent most of the 1978 season with AAA Indianapolis where he batted .368. He was the Minor League Player of the Year. Summers batted 35 times with the Reds in '78 and hit .257.
  • In 1979 Champ started with the Reds (.200 in 60 at bats) and then was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Sheldon Burnside. There he was reunited with manager Sparky Anderson and had his best seasons. Summers batted .313 with 20 HR in 90 games to finish the 1979 season. In 1980 Summers was able to spend a lot of time as DH. He batted .297 with 17 HR and 60 RBI in 120 games. Champ batted .255 in 165 at bats in 1981. After the 1981 season Summers was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Enos Cabell and cash.
  • Champ was 36 years old when he got to the Giants and on the tail end of his career. In 1982 he batted .248 in 125 at bats. His production really dropped off in 1983 (.136 in 22 at bats) and Summers traded to the San Diego Padres for Joe Pittman and a minor leaguer after the season.
  • Summers batted .185 in 54 at bats in 1984, mostly as a pinch hitter. He was hitless in two at bats in the NLCS and struck out in his only at bat in the World Series. Champ was granted free agency after the 1984 season, didn't sign with anyone, and retired.
  • In 1989 Summers played in the Senior Professional Baseball League. He managed the Independent League Gateway Grizzlies in 2001.
  • Summers now operated "Champ Summers' Summer Camp for Champs," a motivational sports retreat for youths.
  • Liked to face: Mike Torrez (.346 in 26 AB); Dennis Leonard (.438 in 16 AB); Dennis Eckersley (.357 in 14 AB)
  • Hated to face: Dennis Martinez (.158 in 19 AB); Don Sutton (.167 in 18 AB); Rick Langford (.133 in 15 AB)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1976 Topps #298 - Dick Bosman

  • Mr. Bosman didn't know it at the time, but 1976 would be his last season in the majors. Dick pitched for several teams from 1966-1976. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1963. He was drafted from the Pirates system by the San Francisco Giants after the 1963 season, then drafted by the Washington Senators out of the Giants' system after the 1964 season.
  • Bosman pitched in the minors again in 1965, then split the 1966 season between Washington and AA York. For the Senators Dick was 2-6 with a 7.62 ERA in 13 games (7 starts). In 1967 Bosman was at AAA Hawaii and was brought up in late August. Dick started seven games for the Senators in 1967 and was 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA.
  • In 1968 Bosman was a swingman. He appeared in 46 games (10 starts) and was 2-9 with one save and a 3.69 ERA. Dick had a dramatic turnaround in 1969. He led the AL in ERA (2.19) and had a 14-5 record. Bosman had another good year in 1970 -- he was 16-12 with a 3.00 ERA in 34 starts.
  • Bosman had a fall-off in his stats in 1971. He was 12-16 with a 3.73 ERA in 35 starts. In 1972 Dick missed three weeks in July. In 29 starts he was 8-10 with a 3.63 ERA.
  • Dick split the 1973 season between the Texas Rangers (new home of the Senators) and the Cleveland Indians. He was 2-5 in seven starts with the Rangers and was traded with Ted Ford to the Indians on May 10 for Steve Dunning. Bosman didn't pitch as well for the Indians -- he was 1-8 with a 6.22 ERA. Altogether he was 3-13 with a 5.64 ERA in 1973.
  • Bosman rebounded a bit in 1974. He had a 7-5 record with a 4.10 ERA in 25 games (18 starts). Bosman started a game on April 11 and then didn't start another one until July 1. During that time he made his seven relief appearances, which averages out to 1 game about every 10 days. A highlight of his career happened on July 19, 1974 when he pitched a no-hitter against the Oakland A's. He missed a perfect game due to his own fielding error. This was the only time a pitcher would miss a perfect game in this fashion.
  • In 1975 Dick split the season between the Indians and the Oakland A's. He was 0-2 for the Indians when he was traded on May 20 with Jim Perry to the A's for Blue Moon Odom and cash. Bosman ended up being a valuable part of the A's staff in 1975 -- he went 11-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 21 starts. He made one appearance in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, pitching 1/3 of an inning.
  • Bosman was a swingman in his last year in the majors (1976). He was 4-2 with a 4.10 ERA in 27 games (15 starts). He was released during spring training in 1977.
  • After his playing career Bosman was a pitching coach for various major and minor league teams. He coached for the Chicago White Sox (1986-1987), the Baltimore Orioles (1992-1994), and the Texas Rangers (1995-2000). He is now a coach in the Tampa Bay Rays system.
  • Dick spends his free time rebuilding old cars into hot rods.
  • Liked to face: Sandy Alomar (.170 in 53 AB); Bobby Murcer (.156 in 45 AB); Dick McAuliffe (.158 in 38 AB); Ed Herrmann (.139 in 36 AB)
  • Hated to face: Dave May (.364 in 55 AB); Mike Andrews (.380 in 50 AB); Carlos May (.442 in 43 AB)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

1976 Topps #297 - Roger Metzger

  • Roger Metzger was the starting shortstop for the Houston Astros for a good portion of the 1970s. Metzger was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Cubs in 1969. He went straight to AAA Tacoma and played there in 1969 and 1970. The Cubs brought Roger up in September 1970 and he was 0 for 2 in one game.
  • Metzger was traded to the Astros for Hector Torres after the 1970 season. Roger was installed as the starting shortstop and stayed there through the 1976 season. In 1971 he led the NL with 11 triples and batted .235 in 150 games. Here is a December 1971 Baseball Digest article. Roger tripled only three times in 1972 and his batting average dipped to .222 in 153 games.
  • Roger won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 1973. He had a .982 fielding percentage, 22 points above the league average. Metzger also led the NL in triples with 14. He batted .250 in 154 games. Roger batted .253 in 143 games in 1974.
  • In 1975 Metzger played in 127 games. He was out for three weeks from late July to mid August. His batting average dropped to .227. Roger's average went down even further in 1976. He batted .210 in 152 games. Metzger missed a bigger chunk of the season in 1977. He didn't play from April 27 to June 16. In 97 games Roger batted .186.
  • Metzger split the season between the Astros and the San Francisco Giants in 1978. He played in 45 games for Houston and batted .220. On June 15 he was sold to the Giants, where he batted .260 in 75 games. Roger split time with Johnnie LeMaster at short in 1979 and batted .251 in 94 games. He was the better offensive player of the two. After the 1979 season Roger cut off parts of four fingers in a table saw accident. He attempted a comeback but was unsuccessful (.074 in 27 AB) and was released by the Giants on August 16.
  • After his playing career Metzger taught mathematics at Brenham High School. He is now the job procurement officer at Brenham State School.
  • Liked to face: Jack Billingham (.364 in 55 AB); Fergie Jenkins (.359 in 39 AB); Jim Lonborg (.361 in 36 AB)
  • Hated to face: Ed Halicki (.056 in 36 AB); Doug Rau (.045 in 44 AB); Don Gullett (.129 in 31 AB)

Monday, December 14, 2009

1976 Topps #296 - Pat Dobson

  • Pat Dobson pitched for six teams from 1967-1977. He was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1959 at the age of 17. He was in the minors from 1960-1967, then finally was called up to the Tigers in late May of '67. Pat was a mop-up man in 1967 and went 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 28 games. He pitched winter ball in Puerto Rico after the 1967 season and struck out 21 batters in one game.
  • In 1968 Dobson was a spot starter and reliever. He appeared in 47 games (10 starts) and was 5-8 with 7 saves and a 2.66 ERA. He appeared in three games in the 1968 World Series and had a 3.86 ERA. Pat had a similar role in 1969. He was in 49 games (9 starts) and was 5-10 with 9 saves and a 3.60 ERA.
  • After the 1969 season Dobson criticized Detroit management for firing pitching coach Johnny Sain and for not doing enough to improve the team. Pat and Dave Campbell were promptly traded to the San Diego Padres for Joe Niekro. Pat was given a chance to be a regular starter and was 14-15 with a 3.76 ERA in 34 starts. After the 1970 season Dobson was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in a multi-player trade.
  • Dobson had his best season in 1971. He won 20 games (one of four 20-game winners the Orioles had that year) and lost only eight. He had a 2.90 ERA in '71. Pat wasn't used in the ALCS. He started game 4 of the World Series but wasn't involved in the decision. After the '71 season Pat pitched a no-hitter during a tour of Japan.
  • In 1972 Dobson led the AL with 18 losses. He was 16-18 with a 2.65 ERA in 36 starts. After the 1972 season Pat was traded to the Atlanta Braves.
  • Dobson wasn't happy with the Braves. He complained that the entire team and ballpark were built around offense. He was 3-7 with a 4.99 ERA with the Braves before being traded to the New York Yankees on June 7. He went 9-8 with a 4.17 ERA for the Yankees in 21 starts.
  • In 1974 Dobson had another good year. He was 19-15 with a 3.07 ERA in 39 starts. Dobson was 11-14 with a 4.07 ERA in 1975. He clashed with manager Bill Virdon about the merits of a 4-man rotation (preferred by Dobson) vs. a 5-man rotation that Virdon wanted to use. Virdon was fired by the Yankees in August, but Pat also clashed with new manager Billy Martin. After the 1975 season Pat was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Oscar Gamble.
  • Pat was glad to be traded to the Indians and to play for former teammate Frank Robinson. He had a 16-12 record with a 3.48 ERA in 35 starts in 1976. But Dobson struggled in 1977 and was pulled from the rotation in July. He ended up 3-12 with a 6.12 ERA. Pat was released by the Indians during spring training in 1978.
  • After his playing career Pat was a pitching coach for several years. He became the pitching coach of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 and served until the end of the 1984 season. Dobson was also the pitching coach for the San Diego Padres from 1988-1990, the Kansas City Royals from 1991-1992, and the Baltimore Orioles in 1996. In 1997 Dobson joined the Giants as an advance scout and an assistant to general manager Pat Sabean. He died of leukemia on November 22, 2006.
  • Here is a link to a good SABR biography about Dobson.
  • Liked to face: Larry Brown (.083 in 24 AB); Rick Burleson (.105 in 38 AB); John Lowenstein (.108 in 37 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rod Carew (.424 in 66 AB); Ben Oglivie (.500 in 24 AB); Tony Oliva (.370 in 54 AB)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

1976 Topps #295 - Dave Cash

  • Dave Cash was a second baseman for four teams from 1969-1980. Cash was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966. He made his major league debut in late 1969 and batted .278 in 18 games.
  • Cash started the 1970 season in the minors and was brought up to the majors to stay in late May. He played in 64 games in 1970 and batted .314. He batted .125 in the NLCS. During this time the Pirates had Bill Mazeroski at the tail end of his career and Rennie Stennett coming up, so there was a bit of a logjam at second base. In 1971 Dave played in 123 games and batted .289. Cash batted .421 in the NLCS but only .133 in the World Series.
  • It looks like Dave had a couple of stints on the DL in 1972. He missed about 2 1/2 weeks in July and about 2 1/2 weeks in September. Cash played in 99 games and batted .282. He batted .211 (4 for 19) in the 1972 NLCS.
  • In 1973 Cash batted .271 in 117 games. The Pirates needed to decide who to keep (Stennett or Cash), plus they had Willie Randolph in their system. After the '73 season Cash was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Ken Brett. Dave had his best three seasons with the Phillies from 1974-1976. He was named to the NL All Star team in each of those seasons. In 1974 Dave led the NL in at bats and batted .300. He also started to get a few more doubles and triples (26 and 11 in 1974).
  • Cash led the NL in at bats again in 1975 and batted .305 with a league-leading 213 hits and 40 doubles. Dave also had a career-high 111 runs scored. In 1976 Cash led the NL in at bats (666) and triples (12) and batted .284. He also struck out only 13 times all season. In the 1976 NLCS Dave batted .308 in 13 at bats. After the 1976 season Cash became a free agent and signed with the Montreal Expos.
  • Dave had career highs in doubles (42) and stolen bases (21) and batted .289 in 1977. In 1978 Cash fell off offensively. He played in 159 games but his batting average dropped to .252. Cash didn't get as much playing time in 1979, appearing in only 76 games (47 at 2B and the rest as a pinch hitter/runner). He batted .321 in 187 at bats. After the 1979 season Dave was traded to the San Diego Padres for Bill Almon and Dan Briggs.
  • Cash played in 130 games in 1980 but his batting average plummeted to .227. He was released at the end of spring training in 1981.
  • After his playing career Dave did some coaching and managing in the minors. He was the first base coach for the Baltimore Orioles in 2006.
  • Liked to face: Bill Bonham (.365 in 72 AB); Bob Gibson (.375 in 56 AB); Jack Billingham (.450 in 40 AB)
  • Hated to face: Randy Jones (.190 in 58 AB); J.R. Richard (.146 in 48 AB); Steve Stone (.114 in 35 AB)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

1976 Topps #294 - Ed Kirkpatrick

  • Ed Kirkpatrick was at the end of his career when this card was made. He played for several teams from 1962-1977 as a utility player (mostly corner infield and outfield and catcher). Kirkpatrick was signed by the Los Angeles Angels in 1962. Ed batted .375 as a 17-year-old for two minor league teams in '62 and was brought up to the Angels for a short time at the end of the season (0 for 6 in 3 games).
  • Ed split the season between the Angels and AA and AAA in 1963. He batted .326 in the minors during June and August. He spent most of the rest of the year with the Angels but didn't play a whole lot. Ed played in 34 games and batted .195 in 75 at bats. In 1964 Kirkpatrick again split time between the Angels and the minors. He played in 75 games for the Angels and batted .242 in 219 at bats.

  • Kirkpatrick played for AAA Hawaii for most of the 1965 season. He hit 20 home runs and batted .291 in 141 games. In September and October Ed started 19 games in RF and batted .260 in 78 at bats. On September 8, 1965 Kirkpatrick collided with Bert Campaneris in the 9th inning of the game in which Bert played all nine positions. There was a brawl after the collision and Bert ended up going to the hospital. The 1966 season was the first one in which Kirkpatrick didn't play in the minors. He played in 117 games for the Angels and batted .192 in 312 games.
  • In 1967 Kirkpatrick played in the minors for all but three games (o for 8). Ed stayed with the Angels in 1968 and batted .230 with 1 HR in 161 at bats as a utility man. After the 1968 season he was traded with Dennis Paepke to the expansion Kansas City Royals for Hoyt Wilhelm. Ed played in 120 games in 1969 and hit .257 with 14 home runs. In 1970 Kirkpatrick played every position but pitcher and second base. His batting average dipped to .229 but he hit a career-high 18 home runs with 62 RBI in 134 games.
  • Kirkpatrick played in 120 games as an outfielder and catcher in 1971 and batted .219 in 365 at bats. In 1972 Ed was the starting catcher for the Royals and had a career high in batting average (.275) in 113 games. Kirkpatrick went back to his OF/C role in 1973 and batted .263 in 429 at bats. After the 1973 season he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • From 1974-1976 Ed was a pinch hitter and backup outfielder/infielder. He played in 116 games in 1974 (.247 in 271 AB), 89 games in 1975 (.236 in 144 AB), and 83 games in 1976 (.233 in 146 AB). He was 0 for 11 in the 1974 and 1975 NL Championship Series. He hit Reds manager Sparky Anderson during a brawl in 1975.
  • In 1977 Ed played for three teams. He started with the Pirates, was traded to the Texas Rangers for Jim Fregosi on June 15, and then was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers on August 20 for Gorman Thomas (who was in the minors at the time). Thomas was sold back to the Brewers before the '78 season. Altogether Kirkpatrick batted .222 in 153 at bats. He was released by the Brewers during spring training in 1978 and hooked on with Salt Lake City (AAA club of the California Angels). Despite batting .325 in 69 games, Ed never got called back to the majors.
  • In 1981 Kirkpatrick was involved in an auto accident that put him in a coma for 5 1/2 months and left him permanently paralyzed.
  • Liked to face: Tom Murphy (.412 in 34 AB); Mudcat Grant (.357 in 28 AB); Joe Coleman (.340 in 47 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jim Kaat (.069 in 29 AB); Nolan Ryan (.107 in 28 AB); Jim Palmer (.163 in 43 AB)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

1976 Topps #293 - Bill Castro

  • Bill Castro had a ten-year career, mostly with the Milwaukee Brewers. Bill was signed by the Brewers in 1970 and was in their minor league system from 1971-1974. He came up to the Brewers at the end of the 1974 season and pitched in eight games (4.50 ERA in 18 innings).

  • Castro pitched in 18 games (5 starts) in 1975 and was 3-2 with 1 save and a 2.52 ERA. He may have had some injury problems -- he pitched only once after July 20. In 1976 Bill was 4-6 with 8 saves and had a 3.45 ERA in 39 games.

  • Bill had career highs in saves (13) and wins (8) in 1977. He was 8-6 with a 4.15 ERA in 51 games. Castro had his best ERA (1.81) in 1978 -- he was 5-4 with eight saves in 42 games. Bill was pretty much a 1 inning per game guy -- he pitched 49.2 innings that year.

  • In 1979 Castro was 3-1 with six saves and an ERA of 2.03. Bill's last season with the Brewers was 1980. He was 2-4 with eight saves, a 2.77 ERA, and a career-high 56 appearances. After the 1980 season Bill became a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees.
  • Castro wasn't used very much by the Yankees in 1981. He was with the club for the first two months and was 1-1 in 11 games (19 innings). Bill spent the rest of the season with AAA Columbus. During spring training in 1982 Castro was traded to the California Angels for Butch Hobson. He didn't make the Angels and was released at the end of spring training. The Oakland A's signed Castro on May 2 but he was released on June 25 without pitching a game. The Kansas City Royals then signed him on July 6. Bill pitched in 21 games (4 starts) and was 3-2 with one save and had a 3.45 ERA.
  • Bill pitched poorly in 1983 (2-0, 6.64 ERA in 18 games) and was released on July 8. The Brewers signed him on July 15 and he spent the rest of the season with AAA Vancouver. Castro retired after the 1983 season.
  • After his career Castro did a lot of coaching. He was named the Brewers' bullpen coach in 1992 and was there (except for a brief "interim pitching coach" stint in 2002) until he was named the Brewers' pitching coach in 2007. Bill was let go as pitching coach in August 2009. He was also the pitching coach for the Dominican Republic's team in the World Baseball Classic.
  • Liked to face: Carl Yastrzemski (.176 in 17 AB); Jim Sundberg (.188 in 16 AB); Bobby Bonds (.077 in 13 AB)
  • Hated to face: Brian Downing (.533 in 15 AB); Andre Thornton (.467 in 15 AB); Doug DeCinces (.389 in 18 AB)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

1976 Topps #292 - Leon Roberts

  • Leon Roberts played for six teams from 1974-1984. Roberts was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1972. He played in the minors from 1972-1974 and batted .304 in '72, .294 in '73, and .285 in '74 with some power. At the end of the 1974 season Roberts was brought up and batted .270 in 17 games.
  • In 1975 Roberts became the starting right fielder for the Tigers. He batted .257 with 10 HR in 129 games. Leon was traded to the Houston Astros after the 1975 season. Roberts was a backup outfielder for the Astros in 1976. He batted .289 in 87 games in '76. Leon started the 1977 season very poorly (he was batting .095 on June 3) and spent most of the season in the minors. Altogether Leon batted .074 in 19 games. He was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Jimmie Sexton before the 1978 season.
  • Roberts had some productive seasons with the Mariners. In 1978 he batted .301 with 22 HR and 92 RBI as the starting right fielder. Leon batted .271 with 15 HR and 54 RBI in 1979. His production tapered off in 1980 (.251, 10 HR, 33 RBI) and after the season Roberts was traded to the Texas Rangers.
  • In 1981 Roberts mostly played right field and it was his last year as a regular. He batted .279 with 4 HR and 31 RBI in 72 games. Leon played in 31 games for the Rangers in 1982 (.233, 1 HR, 6 RBI) before he was sold to the Toronto Blue Jays on July 15. He played in 40 games for the Blue Jays (.229, 1 HR, 5 RBI) and was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Cecil Fielder after the season.
  • Leon was a backup outfielder and designated hitter in 1983. He batted .258 with 8 HR and 24 RBI in 84 games. In 1984 Roberts batted .222 in 45 AB and was released after the season. He played for Detroit's AAA Evansville club in 1985 but wasn't called up to the majors.
  • Roberts managed for several years in the Detroit farm system after his playing career. He also did some coaching for other clubs (in 2001 he was the hitting coordinator for the Cincinnati Reds organization). Here is a 2001 interview with Roberts.
  • Liked to face: Lary Sorensen (.467 in 15 AB); Fergie Jenkins (.393 in 28 AB); Dennis Eckersley (.346 in 26 AB)
  • Hated to face: Steve Stone (.129 in 31 AB); Ed Figueroa (.136 in 22 AB); Francisco Barrios (.063 in 16 AB)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

1976 Topps #291 - Ken Sanders

  • Ken Sanders was signed by the Kansas City A's in 1960. He was in the minors for the 1960-1963 seasons. Ken earned a promotion to the majors in August 1964 after going 9-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 41 games at AA Birmingham. Sanders pitched in 21 games for the A's and was 0-2 with one save and an ERA of 3.67.
  • Sanders spent the 1965 season in the minors and then was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft. Ken started the 1966 season with Boston (3-6, 2 saves, 3.80 ERA) and then was traded back to Kansas City on June 13. He went 3-4 with 1 save and a 3.76 ERA in 38 games (1 start) for the A's.
  • Ken was back in the minors in 1967, most of 1968, and 1969. He had a short stint with the A's in July 1968 (0-1, 3.38 ERA in 7 games). After the 1969 season Sanders was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. Sanders started the 1970 season in the minors and was recalled in late May. He pitched in 50 games for the Brewers and was 5-2 with 13 saves and a 1.75 ERA.
  • Ken's best season was in 1971. He was the AL Fireman of the Year as he led the AL with 31 saves and 83 appearances. Sanders had a 7-12 record with an ERA of 1.91. He wasn't as good in 1972 (2-9, 17 saves, 3.12 ERA in 62 appearances). Sanders was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies (who then turned around and traded him to the Minnesota Twins) after the season.
  • In 1973 Sanders pitched for two teams. He started with the Twins and was 2-4 with 8 saves and a 6.09 ERA. Ken was placed on waivers and claimed by the Cleveland Indians on August 3. He returned to form with Cleveland and was 5-1 with 5 saves and an ERA of 1.65.
  • Sanders pitched poorly for Cleveland in 1974 (0-1, 1 save, 9.82 ERA in 9 games) and was released on June 17. He may have been hurt -- Sanders made only one appearance between mid-April and mid-June. Ken was picked up by the California Angels and assigned to AAA Salt Lake City. He pitched pretty well there and was brought back to the majors in mid-August. Sanders had a 2.79 ERA in nine appearances for the Angels in 1974.
  • During spring training in 1975 the Angels traded Ken to the New York Mets for Ike Hampton. Sanders split the '75 season between AAA Tidewater and the Mets. He appeared in 29 games for the Mets and was 1-1 with 5 saves and an ERA of 2.70.
  • Ken's last season in the majors was 1976. He started with the Mets and was 1-2 with 1 save and a 2.87 ERA in 31 games. Sanders was sold to the Kansas City Royals on September 17. Ken pitched three innings for the Royals and was released at the end of the season. Sanders signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and pitched for their AAA Spokane team in 1977 but wasn't called back up to the majors. Sanders retired after the 1977 season.
  • After his retirement Ken became a prominent real estate man in Milwaukee. He also has served on the board of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. Here is a "where are they now" article from 2002 about Ken.
  • Liked to face: Ed Kirkpatrick (.087 in 23 AB); Ed Brinkman (.056 in 18 AB); Cesar Tovar (.063 in 16 AB)
  • Hated to face: Bobby Murcer (.625 in 16 AB); Amos Otis (.471 in 17 AB); Carl Yastrzemski (.385 in 13 AB)

Monday, December 7, 2009

1976 Topps #290 - Ted Simmons

  • Ted Simmons was a good catcher who was overshadowed by Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Thurman Munson, and Gary Carter. There were quite a few good catchers in the 70s. If he would have had a better decline phase, he would probably be in the Hall of Fame. Although he put up good offensive numbers, the fact that he didn't lead the league in any of the major categories during his career probably works against him. Looking strictly at the numbers, Ted's defense was at league average during his career. Here is a Hardball Times article that examines the pros and cons of Ted Simmons belonging in the Hall of Fame
  • Ted Simmons was the first round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1967. Simmons started in the minors as a 17-year-old in '67 and tore up the minors from 1968-1970. Ted had two late season looks in 1968 and 1969. In late May 1970 Simmons came up to the majors for good. He batted .243 in 82 games.
  • In 1971 Simmons became the regular catcher. Ted batted .303 with 7 HR and 77 RBI in 133 games. He would play in at least 140 games in every season but 1979 (123 games) for the rest of his tenure with the Cardinals.
  • Ted started to develop some power in 1972 (he was still only 22 years old) and hit 16 homers. Ted batted .303 that season and was selected to the first of eight All Star games (six for the Cardinals and two for the Milwaukee Brewers).
  • In 1973 Ted was an All Star again (he went 0 for 1) and batted .310 with 13 HR and 90 RBI. Simmons had a lower batting average (.272) in 1974 but hit for more power (20 HR, 103 RBI). He was selected to the All Star game but didn't get in the game.
  • Simmons had what was probably his best year in 1975 but wasn't selected to the All Star Game. He batted .332 with 18 HR and 100 RBI and was 6th in NL MVP voting. Ted's power numbers were way down in 1976 -- he batted .291 but hit only five home runs and knocked in only 75 runs.
  • In 1977 Ted had another good year (.318, 21 HR, 95 RBI), made the All Star team (he was 0 for 3 as a sub for Johnny Bench), and was 9th in MVP voting. Simmons was voted to the 1978 All Star Game as a starter by the fans. He went 1 for 3 in the game. Ted batted .287 with 22 HR and 80 RBI in '78.
  • Ted batted .286 with a career-high 26 home runs in 1979. He was on the 1979 NL All Star team but didn't play. The team had five catchers (Bench, Simmons, Gary Carter, John Stearns, and starter Bob Boone) that year. His final year with the Cardinals was 1980. Simmons batted .303 with 21 HR and 98 RBI. Ted didn't get along with new manager Whitey Herzog. He was packaged with Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich in a big trade with the Milwaukee Brewers after the 1980 season.
  • Simmons made the AL All Star team in 1981 (he had a pinch hit RBI single) although he had an awful year. He batted .216 with 14 HR and 61 RBI. Ted batted .222 in the 1981 ALDS. Simmons had a better year for the Brewers in 1982 -- he batted .269 with 23 HR and 97 RBI. He didn't do much in the post season (.167 in the ALCS and .174 in the World Series).
  • In 1983 Ted made the All Star team for the last time. He was the starting catcher for the American League and went 0 for 2. He batted .308 with 13 RBI and 108 RBI in '83. By this time Ted was spending more time as the designated hitter. After the 1983 season Simmons became a free agent and decided to resign with the Brewers.
  • The 1984 season was Ted's worst season as a regular player. He batted .221 with 4 HR and 52 RBI. Simmons had a better year in 1985, his last as a regular player. He batted .273 with 12 HR and 76 RBI. During spring training in 1986 the Brewers traded Simmons to the Atlanta Braves for Rick Cerone and two minor leaguers.
  • Simmons spent the last three seasons of his career as a pinch hitter and backup for the Braves. After the 1988 season Ted retired and was hired by ex-teammate Dal Maxvill as Director of Player Development for the Cardinals.
  • After his playing career Simmons was a front office executive for several years. He became the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992 but stepped down in June 1993 after he had a heart attack. Ted was Director of Player Development for the Cardinals and the San Diego Padres. He was the bench coach for the Brewers in 2008 and for the Padres in 2009.
  • Baseball Prospectus 2008 interview with Simmons

  • Liked to face: Burt Hooton (.345 in 87 AB); Rick Reuschel (.357 in 84 AB); Ernie McAnally (.552 in 29 AB); Jack Billingham (.444 in 45 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jack Morris (.158 in 38 AB); Ed Whitson (.111 in 27 AB); Frank Tanana (.063 in 32 AB); Phil Niekro (.203 in 79 AB)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

1976 Topps #289 - Enzo Hernandez

  • Enzo Hernandez is showing what was probably his best baseball skill -- bunting the baseball. He was usually in double figures in sacrifices and led the NL with 24 in 1975. Hernandez was signed by the Houston Astros in 1967. He played in the Houston farm system in 1967 and 1968 and then was involved in the big trade that sent Mike Cuellar to the Baltimore Orioles. Enzo played in the Baltimore system in 1969 and 1970 and then was traded to the San Diego Padres.

  • Hernandez became the starting shortstop for the Padres in 1971. He played in 143 games and had 618 plate appearances but somehow managed to drive in only 12 runs. Enzo batted .222 and all but 12 of his 122 hits were singles. He was the "Triple Crown Loser" in '71, finishing last among eligible batters in batting average, home runs (0), and RBI.

  • In 1972 Enzo played in fewer games (114) and batted .195 in 329 AB. He had a nice stolen base percentage -- 24 stolen bases and 3 caught stealing. Hernandez missed almost six weeks of the 1973 season from mid June to late July and lost his starting shortstop job to Darrell Thomas. He appeared in 70 games and batted .223 in 247 AB.

  • Enzo regained his starting SS job in 1974 and batted .232 in 512 at bats. He stole a career-high 37 bases in '74. In 1975 Hernandez played in 114 games and batted .218 in 344 at bats.

  • Hernandez had his best offensive year in 1976. He batted .256 in 340 at bats. In 1977 Enzo played in only seven games in April. Six of those games were as a late-inning defensive replacement. Enzo was 0 for 3 in the only game he started. He may have been hurt since there is no record of him playing in the minors that year.

  • In 1978 Enzo was cut during spring training and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He spent most of the year in AAA Albuquerque. He appeared in four games in August and was 0 for 3 before being released on August 25.
  • Liked to face: Jerry Koosman (.306 in 36 AB); Jim Barr (.344 in 32 AB); Bob Gibson (.300 in 30 AB); Doug Rau (.440 in 24 AB)
  • Hated to face: Tom Seaver (.136 in 44 AB); Gary Nolan (.147 in 34 AB); Andy Messersmith (.138 in 29 AB); Juan Marichal (.125 in 24 AB)